JPT Report: Swindon Town 2-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Swindon Town never like to do it easy do they? Calvin Hothi was at the County Ground on a cold night as the Robins managed to scrape through to the Southern Area Semi-Final at the expense of an impressive Wycombe Wanderers side, courtesy of a Nicky Ajose brace.
A Swindon team that featured two changes from the side that found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-0 hammering to Macclesfield the previous Saturday. Nicky Ajose came in for Nile Ranger with Louis Thompson replacing the injured Ryan Mason, who is likely to face another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Town started the game attacking the Stratton Bank end. The game took off slowly with neither team managing to grab much of a foothold in the game. Dany N’Guessan fired over in the 7th minute after good work down the left from Massimo Luongo. The first clear cut chance arrived after a good touch from Alex Pritchard sent Massimo Luongo through, the former Tottenham mans ball across the box should have been met by Nicky Ajose had he thrown himself at it. Swindon continued to pass the ball around well, keeping on top of possession but with a lack of killer instinct. A few Pritchard corners failed to beat the first man as Town pressed for an opener.
Luongo, who had seen a lot of the ball already, had the chance to open affairs when his shot at the back post was well blocked for a corner. The Australian then exchanged passes with Alex Pritchard with the former then sending his shot wide. Soon after Yaser Kasim was hacked down outside the box offering Pritchard the chance to test the Wycombe ‘keeper. Pritchard however sent a well struck shot narrowly over as the home side looked the more likely to break the deadlock.
Nathan Byrne then managed to send a deep cross in to Jay McEveley and the Scot really should’ve done better than to send the header into the side netting. The Robins then went tantalisingly close to getting a lead when they broke quickly and a well made pass from Massimo Luongo threaded Alex Pritchard through, a powerful shot from the winger struck the far post with the ‘keeper beaten.
Town continued to retain possession and press for a goal before the deadlock was finally broken on just before half-time. A mix up at the back allowed McClure to retain possession in the box following attempted challenges from Darren Ward and Grant Hall and the Wycombe man managed to turn the latter before firing home past Tyrell Belford. A lead Wycombe hadn’t really deserved to find themselves in.
That signalled the end of affairs in the first half. Town had been playing the ball around well but lacked a killer pass. An unlucky mistake at the back resulting in the two center backs tangled on the floor allowed Wycombe to take an undeserved lead. In truth Town should have really been in front already had Pritchard and Ajose been able to take full advantage of their efforts.
Mark Cooper made one half-time change with Ryan Harley replacing Yaser Kasim. Two minutes in Belford had to be on hand to stop Craigs header before Town came back into their swing. Then, double attempts from Harley and Ajose were kept out before Pritchards drilled shot was blocked. The first cautions of the game went to Dany N’Guessan and Nathan Byrne before Mceveley saw his effort drift over the Townend. Kortney Hause offered a rare attack from Wycombe, sending his shot well over. Efforts from Dany N’Guessan and Luongo once again failed to find the back of the net for an evidently increasingly annoyed Robins side.
Town’s second change of the night saw Dany N’Guessan replaced by Mohamed El Gabas on 73 minutes and the away side swapped Craig for Dunne. It wasn’t long until Swindon finally found a leveller on 76 minutes. Ryan Harley drove a free-kick into the box and after a flurry of deflections it fell to Nicky Ajose to bundle in for the deserved equaliser.
Jo Kuffour made way for Billy Knott in the 85th minute before controversy struck. Kretzschmar’s shot crossed the line but Morgan was deemed to be interfering with play and is flagged offside. Morgan didn’t touch the ball and Kretzschmar had ran from an onside position.
The winner for Swindon came very late. After good work from El Gabas, the Egyptian did well to win the ball in the middle of his own half and after good work managed to force through until hacked down by Dunne just outside the area. The Wycombe man picking up a booking for his efforts. Jay McEveley sent the free-kick into the box where it found Pritchard’s head, the ball bounced around and fell to Nicky Ajose just in front of goal and he did well to swivel and beat the ‘keeper. Town left it late with the goal arriving in the 94th minute.
The game in truth was a fairly average game for Town. They played the ball well with Luongo and Pritchard seeing a lot of it, but frustratingly lacked a cutting edge. They again required Ajose to come to the rescue and once again firmly put himself into the manager’s mind for Saturday.
As for the JPT, Swindon will face either Peterborough United, Newport County or Stevenage in the Southern Area Semi-Final. I’m hoping for Town to be drawn against Newport at home and Stevenage to pull off a wonder against Peterborough.
Man of the match goes to Massimo Luongo. The midfielder was involved heavily and linked up play well with surging runs and good passing. He was less effective in the second half but still managed to cause a problem for the Wycombe back line.
Next up is the trip to Colchester this Saturday with the Robins aiming to steady their away form and get a grip hold on the play off places.